Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Be Encouraged! Endure to the End...

The Marathon

Why do so many Christians get discouraged?

John MacArthur, in his book Standing Strong, wrote about spiritual warfare and the Christian. He wrote about how Satan uses doubt and discouragement to hold down the Christian. 

When I read that passage in the book, my first thought was about how in training for a race, doubt sneaks in and so does discouragement. They weigh me down all the time. 

I wake up early on a hot Saturday morning to run and then I hear that voice in my head asking me why bother? Wouldn't I rather fall back into bed and go back to sleep? It's not like I have a shot at winning anything. Heck, I may not even make to mile 16 during marathon training. 

It is so tempting to listen to that voice and go back to sleep. 

Me at mile 26...

Training to Finish

But for me, the marathon training isn't about winning the race. I learned long ago I could never win the marathon. Instead, I train to finish the race. 

Paul wrote about this in his Epistles. He often mentioned running as a metaphor for the Christian life. Nowhere is the Christian life mentioned as a sprint...but rather the type of race that needs endurance. 

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

I run for different reasons than the elitist runners. They run to WIN the prize.

I run to endure. To finish. To accomplish something to the end. 

It isn't easy. 

Mile After Mile

For me, mile 16 is that signpost. 

When I reach mile 16, I check my status. I ask myself how my legs feel. I do a check on how my lungs feel...back? Shoulders? Knees?

If everything is doing good, then I know I can make it to mile 26.

In our Christian walk, we best serve the Lord when we stop and inspect our hearts and our minds. 

How are they doing?

Are they on track? Are we focused on Christ or on our circumstances? How's the condition of our hearts? Is there any unconfessed sin weighing us down? 

Have we been listening to the father of lies? Do we feel discouraged as a result?

Many Christians all over the world live in danger of being killed for their faith on a daily basis. They have reasons to be discouraged.

How can we in America ever get discouraged living in such freedoms?

The Apostle Paul wrote so many of his letters from inside a prison. Could we be so encouraged as to write what he wrote while imprisoned for our faith?

Be Encouraged

2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

It is so easy to get off track. 

With training, an injury can bring everything to a STOP. 

But so can discouragement. 

So many times I want to quit and say why bother? Not just with running, but with teaching God's Word. 

Why bother? No one is listening or learning from my lessons. I see my students nodding off while I teach! 

I am certain someone else could do such a better job of teaching God's Word than I ever could. 

And then the Lord reminds me to be encouraged!

Satan wouldn't attack me if I was no good to God. But the Lord allows His servants to be attacked to make them stronger

As in training, some runs will be harder than others. But those hard runs make us stronger. 

Some days I won't want to run...but after I do, I will feel so much better!

Endure to the end. 

Fight the good fight. Train hard for the finish. 

The Christian journey is not a sprint. It is a marathon. 

And like the marathon, it is full of little accomplishments along the way. Small signposts that let you know you're going to make it. 

Keep going!

We are not in this race alone. 

Praise God! Because without Him, I could never do it. 

Your Turn:  Ever trained for a long race? How do you train to keep going in this Christian journey?



  1. How awesome! We both wrote about running today. :) Hehe. I'm training for a 5K at the end of September. I just decided I needed to have a goal like that in order to get in shape again. Sad, I know, that I won't just run for the simple fact of being healthy. Maybe that's why it can be hard in the Christian faith to stay the course. It's a much less tangible goal, even though it's the best one.

  2. Awesome encouragement! Ummm...I don't run. At all.

    But I am a goal-oriented person and sometimes as a Christian, that's hard. Because I want to cross the finish line. I want to feel like I've made it. But when it comes to following Christ, we don't just "get there." We don't finish until we're in heaven. So it's challenging to me sometimes to know that there's always more ways I can grow...but when I can celebrate the little things on the way to the eternal finish line, that's good. :)

  3. In my younger days I learned to run 5k's with my hubby. I'd usually be next to last crossing the finish line, only because my hubby let me go first. He would run the 26 mile marathon's I couldn't begin to imagine running. I don't know how you do it, Ruth. That's an incredible accomplishment to run 26. As far as my Christian journey goes it's possible for me to stay the course by staying in the Word, attending worship and Bible study. 2nd Timothy 1:7 helps me a lot, especially when life gets really hard.